Course teaches grads to run their own business

A class to help people prepare to run their own business recently ended with 22 students receiving certificates. The course, taught at the El Centro Family Center at the Institute for the Hispanic Family in Hartford, helped the students learn about branding and marketing for a business, plus all of the complicated issues involved with registering a company and legally operating.

Dianisi Torres, a Nutrition Outreach Educator for the University of Connecticut, taught the class over 8 weeks, helping them to create logos, formulate marketing ideas, and to understand advertising principles and strategies.

Dianisi Torres (center), a Nutrition Outreach Educator for the University of Connecticut, teaches the courses at IHF. Nilda Morales-Rivera (right) is Director of the El Centro Family Center & Hispanic Senior Center at IHF and Marangely Burgos (left) is a Family Specialist at the center.

Torres also teaches a separate course for students interested in opening a food business and over 10 weeks, they learn about the different requirements, licenses, and safety issues related to food. It also includes ServSafe certification.

The 22 graduates hold their certificates after the ceremony on April 24, 2024.

Lizandra Sierra completed both courses with her husband, Orlando Gonzalez, to help them run their business, Sweet Fox, which features Puerto Rican dessert treats.

“The class taught us how to manage our money and how to buy materials,” Lizandra said, adding that the students also learned from each other. “We share information, we share ideas.”

Orlando Gonzalez and Lizandra Sierra operate Sweet Fox, a food business featuring desserts from Puerto Rico.

The course taught at IHF is one of two entrepreneur classes offered by Catholic Charities to help people take steps toward financial self-sufficiency. While the IHF course is primarily in Spanish, a class for English-speakers is offered at the Asylum Hill Family Center. For information about that program, which starts a new cohort later in the summer, contact Financial Stability Specialist Ashanae Boothe at

Anyone wanting information or to participate in the next ServSafe course taught at IHF starting later in May should contact Marangely Burgos at 860-718-5084 or

Zuleika Alicea wants to open a nail salon and created a logo in the class.
The April 24 graduation ceremony was attended by family and friends, with several graduates providing food items that are part of their business plan.
Jose Gonzalez talks to fellow students about his business ideas.